LIÈGE, Belgium, 12 December 2012 – Most participating States of the OSCE are meeting their commitment to promote remembrance of the Holocaust, according to an overview of remembrance practices released today by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) at the Plenary Meeting of the Taskforce for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF).
The online publication, Holocaust Memorial Days in the OSCE Region – An overview of governmental practices, says that 37 OSCE participating States report have established an official Holocaust memorial day, while another six promote Holocaust remembrance without having established an official day.
“With fewer and fewer survivors remaining to bear witness, it is important that governments create and seize opportunities to officially promote Holocaust remembrance,” said Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of ODIHR. “More can be done to deepen these efforts, and we encourage those states that have yet to do so to follow through on this OSCE commitment.”
ODIHR’s publication shows that 26 OSCE participating States commemorate the Holocaust on 27 January, the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Nine states have chosen a date of national significance to mark the Holocaust, while 19 commemorate it on more than one day.
“Memorial days are a unique opportunity for governments to raise awareness of the Holocaust and to publicly and jointly pay tribute to the victims,” Lenarčič said. “Public officials and civil society can also use these days to focus on the moral challenges of our time and on the need to combat anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism and intolerance.”
The overview of remembrance practices, including the questionnaire that formed its basis, was developed in close co-operation with the ITF.
“The fact that more than half of the OSCE participating States have already joined the ITF is very positive, and this creates synergies for these countries, as well as many opportunities for international co-operation,” said the ITF Chair, Ambassador Jan Deboutte. “Working with ODIHR in reaching out to states that seek to improve their implementation of this commitment is of great importance to the ITF.”
This is the second update of the publication first released in 2008. The overview provides information on a broad range of activities on Holocaust memorial days in the OSCE area; it also includes country summaries providing detailed information on the remembrance dates and related educational activities, as well as on the remembrance of the Roma and Sinti genocide and that of other victims of National Socialism.